The finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa

Since this has been in the news a lot today about the new temple models from Kh. Qeiyafa (that and the new Likudima government), I thought a few of my initial feelings about this, based on what I have seen in the press releases (text and photos;  but without any additional inside knowledge), can be summarized as the following:
1) These are very, very, very, nice finds.
2) If the site is Israelite (and we know there is a controversy about this – I personally do think it is an Israelite site), among the first models shrines from this period that is known. There are many such models from other sites, whether earlier, contemporary (such as those from the Yavneh favissa), and later.
3) The models have some elements that are similar to others known before and after this time (from the MB onwards until the end of the Iron Age), and a few that seem unique or the earliest (such as the triglyphs).
4) Don’t see what is so revolutionary about the finds.
5) Clearly there are iconic representations as opposed to what was previously stated
6) How is there a connection to the “ark of the lord”?
7) Why does this prove ANYTHING about the accuracy of the bible, the existence of the United Monarchy, etc.?
8) I think what is clearly missing in these interpretations is a close interface with mainstream biblical and ANE textual scholars
9) Etc…
I think there is much yet to discuss and debate about these finds, but perhaps we will have to wait till they are published, and based on Yossi’s excellent track record, this should be very soon.

23 thoughts on “The finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa

  1. I have been uneasy about the subject of Kh. Qeiyafa from the first time I learned about the subject. I concur with your evaluation about the site (Israelite) but until I’ll see some facts concerning the matter, I choose to remain skeptical about its chronology. The C14 results on which Ganor and Garfinkel base their whole theory, seem to me (still) to be on very thin ice.


  2. Pingback: Breaking News! Cult Objects at Late Iron I Qeiyafa! « Against Jebel al-Lawz

  3. Louise Hitchcock

    Aren has injected some common sense. It’s difficult to take biblical archaeology seriously when every find is interpreted as some sensational evidence of the historicity of the Bible. The press release and it’s uncritical rebroadcasting on various blogs represent everything cringe-worthy about unfortunate stereotypes about biblical archaeology.


  4. Pingback: New Finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa May Clarify Bible Text, Temple Architecture | Luke Chandler's Blog

  5. Itay Zandbank

    I can answer number 4 for you – Prof. Garfinkel has just published a book, and has to do some PR. That’s why the finds have been upgraded to ‘revolutionary’ and why everything is connected to King David and the bible.

    That being aside, don’t those somewhat unique shrines add to the validity of the site as an Israelite site?


    1. arenmaeir

      I don’t understand why this is related specifically to Israelite cult or that it points to things unique to Israelite cult. Very similar objects have been found in many other contexts and periods. Also – there ARE iconographic depictions on one of the temple models!


      1. it is in the subtextuality of the whole thing. a temple model (when the temple was not built), images (but stating copliance with the second commandment), dating it to “the time of david” (when the whole thing is under discussion), and more… but, as i said in other places, all is fair in love and war, and apparently also in getting a budget for the next season…


  6. Pingback: Biblical connection in artifacts | Top digg everyday

  7. Maybe they are not sensational finds, but they are unique. I don’t think that such finds wherever found in Iron Age IIA context. It also seems that these temple-boxes motives has the closest parallels to the description of the Solomonic Temple from other known models.


    1. arenmaeir

      Zachi: There are other Iron IIA temple models from various sites (Qasile, Yanveh, Rehov). While there are SOME elements in the Qeiyafa models that are reminiscent of the description of the Temple in I Kings, there many other things that ARE NOT, for example, the basic floor plan (it is not tripartite as the description of the Temple in Jerusalem and as many parallel structures are). Thus, I still see no reason not to see this as two examples of the known temple models, which incorporate aspects depicted also in I Kings, since both the depiction in I Kings, and other actual temples and models that are known archaeologically from the MB thru the Iron Age in the entire Levant (and beyond), also reflect the ritual milieu of the ancient near east.
      As to checking stone carefully – it goes without saying!


      1. arenmaeir

        Off hand, as far as I remember (at 11 at night), I don’t recall stone models from this period, but I believe there are such stone objects from other periods and cultures (such as in Egypt, where there is a long tradition of stone Naoi.


  8. something else to put in mind. The stone model was found by Orna Cohen who is the conservator of the excavation. No one gave much attention to the stone which was covered with patina and its form was unclear. Only after cleaning it in her lab they realized what it is.
    May we should give more attention to the field stones we are discarding in our excavations.


  9. My take is similar: the finds from KQ Yossi Garfinkel and his team continue to present to the public with great fanfare are boring. They are compatible with biblical traditions about the time period in question. They fit in well enough with finds and cultural horizons already known to us (and yes, KQ is most likely a non-Philistine, non-Canaanite site, with a ceramic assemblage with reasonably close affiliations with coeval sites from Beersheba in the south to Beth Shemesh in the north).

    The finds also fail to confirm those traditions in the sense of proving that, for example, someone named Saul based in the northern highlands contested the Philistines, only to be succeeded by someone named David based for a time in Hebron and then in Jerusalem, to be succeeded by someone named Solomon who developed organic ties with the Phoenicians of Tyre and endowed Jerusalem with a state-sponsored temple. No surprise there, either. For more reflections along these lines, and lots of links, go here:


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  11. Uri Hurwitz

    The absence of pig bones among the animal bones would indicate a Judahite site. I think this is also true in Bet Shemesh and various other excavated sites, including the controversial Zertal’s altar.

    However according to Naaman, as quoted in a newspaper, this is also true of many Canaanite sites, and should not be considered an ethnic

    Any comment, Aren? And congratulation on the appearance of the Tel es-Safi volumes.


    1. arenmaeir

      While most Philistine sites have pig bones, some do not (such as Qubur el Walayda). Also, during the LB and Iron I, there is very little pig in any of the Southern Levantine cultures outside of Philistia (but we do see it in Canaan in the MB).


  12. yak

    Hi Aren,
    One interesting thing that Garfinkel said on the press conference is that the cultic finds were found in a cultic room which was part of a regular house (and not in a temple). He also showed some parallels from the Bible for the phenomena.

    Is it something unique to Judean/Israelite sites? Are there any parallels from Philistine or Canaanite sites for this?

    I am very curious about this thing.



  13. Pingback: Yossi Garfinkel on the “Ark” | The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

  14. On the issue of non-temple complexes used in cult: Matt Suriano, Jacqui Vayntrub and I pointed out that in fact, the ritual use of general building complexes alongside specialized temples is well known from Anatolian sites such as 8th-century Zincirli, where the famous–and clearly ritual– Katumuwa stele was found in a non-temple building complex. And it is well-known that the iconography of Solomon’s temple included many features seen in temples from Assyria to the northern Levant (such as Ain Dara). The three-part layout of Solomon’s temple (projected back into the tabernacle) follows an established architectural tradition going back to the Middle Bronze Age and is seen in contemporary Iron Age temples at Ain Dara and Tayinat.
    Aren points out that the three-part plan is one of many essential temple elements missing from the models–and it was clearly important to Israelites! The three-part plan is that it was emulated, imperfectly, at Arad even within the cramped space of the fortified acropolis.


  15. Pingback: More on the Qeiyafa Shrines » » Glen Traeger Glen Traeger

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